Sunday, June 12, 2011

Forgotten Walter Lantz Star

Who is Oswald the Rabbit?

Author: John Allsopp

Oswald, sometimes called the Lucky Rabbit, is an animated cartoon character who starred in a series of cartoon motion pictures of 1920s and 1930s released by Universal Studios.
Oswald, as he looked at Disney.

Created and animated by Walt Disney Company, Oswald the Lucky Rabbit was first introduced in 1927 after Walt Disney's series of Alice Comedies had run its course. Walt Disney wanted to go with something new and signed a new contract with Universal Studios; head Carl Laemmle, to produce a series of cartoons under Charles B. Mintz and George Winkler, which seemed like to be, just the ticket.

The first Oswald cartoon, "Poor Papa" was rejected by the Universal studio heads. After this, Disney, together with Ub Iwerks created a second cartoon called "Trolley Troubles". The short film officially launched the series, and proved to be Walt Disney's greatest success to date. However, when Walt asked Mintz for an increase in the budget, Mintz instead offered a budget cut? Walt Disney angrily refused and quit, taking Iwerks and a loyal apprentice artist, Les Clark, with him. Mintz, meanwhile, opened his own studio consisting primarily of former Disney employees.

Oswald was redesigned by Walter Lantz. Above is a cell from an Oswald cartoon.
Dissatisfied with Mintz, Laemmle selected Walter Lantz to produce new cartoons using the character, the first of which was 1929's "Race Riot"; many sources erroneously list "Ozzie of the Circus" as the first. However I am unable to confirm this? Over the next decade, Lantz would produce 140, "Oswald the Lucky Rabbit cartoons" making for a grand total of 192 films, that the character Oswald starred in over all three producers.
Oswald the Lucky Rabbit's last cartoon was "The Egg-Cracker Suite" in 1943. Oswald the Rabbit made occasional reappearances as a character in other cartoons as late as 1951.

Angered by the loss of Oswald, Walt Disney learned to retain full ownership of his animated characters and went on to find immense success with another animated character, Mickey Mouse, who is now one of the most widely recognized icons in the world. You can see Mickey and his partner Minnie, daily in the Magic Kingdom, Walt Disney World Orlando Florida.

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John Allsopp

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